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Senior Health Week: Acid Reflux - Ulcers
Health News You Can Use •

Latest Acid Reflux and Ulcer News:

Gastric Bypass Surgery Not Only Aids Weight Loss But Relievers GERD: Researchers say patients who undergo minimally invasive gastric bypass surgery to treat their obesity are also finding the weight loss relieves bothersome gastrointestinal symptoms.

Recent Acid Reflux and Ulcer News:

Heartburn Drug Allows Heart Patients With Ulcers to Take Aspirin: Patients with heart disease were able to take a baby aspirin every day as a inexpensive and effective means to prevent blood clots.

Prilosec May Soon Become Available Without Prescription: An FDA advisory panel vote means the prescription heartburn remedy Prilosec may soon become the first drug in its class available over-the-counter.

Baclofen, Drug Used to Treat Muscle Spasms, May Also Help With GERD: Researchers say a drug that acts on the spinal cord and nerves may be a useful therapy in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Guide Helps Patients Choose Foods That Will Not Trigger Heartburn: To help heartburn sufferers stay away from troublesome foods and beverages, the National Heartburn Alliance has developed the Stop and Select Guide to help prevent heartburn before it starts.

H. Pylori Bacteria Adds to Damage Aspirin Can Cause to Stomach Lining: Researchers say animal tests suggest that infection with H. pylori worsens aspirin-caused ulcers, causing more widespread tissue erosion and bleeding.

Compound Found in Broccoli Kills Helicobacter Pylori Bacteria: Researchers found that purified sulforaphane even killed H. pylori that was resistant to commonly prescribed antibiotics.

Study Finds Prevacid® Highly Effective in Treating Erosive Esophagitis: A study found most patients treated for erosive esophagitis, which is characterized by frequent and persistent heartburn, still healed after one year.

19 Million Cases of GERD Per Year Reported in United States: Researchers report that Americans spend an estimated $9.3 billion per year dealing with the second most prevalent of all gastrointestinal and liver conditions.

Aciphex® and Antibiotics Clear Up H. Pylori Infections in Seven Days: Researchers report that the treatment for the most common cause of peptic ulcers is as effective as a 10-day treatment with Prilosec® and antibiotics.

Breath Test Can Detect Bacteria That Causes Ulcers: The new breath test, where a patient simply blows into a tube, can detect the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria.

Nighttime Heartburn Can Lead to Dangerous Complications: A painful condition that affects 50 million people, researchers say nighttime heartburn can be more severe than daytime heartburn and lead to significant complications like sleep deprivation, respiratory illnesses and even cancer.

Patients With GERD More Likely to Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Patients with gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) have a higher incidence of irritable bowel syndrome, according to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California in Los Angeles.

Chronic Cough in GERD Patients Not Always Caused by Acid: Researchers report that for these patients, antireflux surgery can eliminate or significantly improve the chronic cough,

New Procedure for Treating GERD Shows Positive Results: Minimally invasive, outpatient procedure uses precisely controlled radiofrequency energy to create thermal lesions in the muscle of the lower esophageal sphincter.

People Who Suffer from GERD Have More Coughs and Nasal Congestion: People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), are also more likely to suffer nasal congestion and other respiratory problems, according to a new study.

Surgery for Recurring Heartburn May Not Lower Esophageal Cancer Risk: Researchers said that patients who undergo surgery to treat gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) may not lower their risk of esophageal cancer risk or eliminate the need for antacids years later.

H. Pylori Infection Leads to Much Quicker GERD Relapse: People infected with helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria are likely to suffer a relapse of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) much more quickly than those in whom H. pylori has been eradicated, according to a Swiss study.

Acid Reflux/GERD Primer:

Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)--the muscle connecting the esophagus with the stomach. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD. Doctors believe that some people suffer from GERD due to a condition called hiatal hernia.

What Is Gastro-esophageal reflux? Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. Reflux means to flow back or return. Therefore, gastroesophageal reflux is the return of the stomach's contents back up into the esophagus

In normal digestion, the LES opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and closes to prevent food and acidic stomach juices from flowing back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the LES is weak or relaxes inappropriately allowing the stomach's contents to flow up into the esophagus.

The severity of GERD depends on LES dysfunction as well as the type and amount of fluid brought up from the stomach and the neutralizing effect of saliva.

Some doctors believe a hiatal hernia may weaken the LES and cause reflux. Hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach moves up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm (diaphragmatic hiatus). Studies show that hiatal hernia results in retention of acid and other contents above this opening. These substances can reflux easily into the esophagus. Many otherwise healthy people age 50 and over have a small hiatal hernia. Although considered a condition of middle age, hiatal hernias affect people of all ages.

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD and usually feels like a burning chest pain beginning behind the breastbone and moving upward to the neck and throat. Many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth leaving an acid or bitter taste. The burning, pressure, or pain of heartburn can last as long as 2 hours and is often worse after eating. Lying down or bending over can also result in heartburn. Many people obtain relief by standing upright or by taking an antacid that clears acid out of the esophagus.

Heartburn pain can be mistaken for the pain associated with heart disease or a heart attack, but there are differences. Exercise may aggravate pain resulting from heart disease, and rest may relieve the pain. Heartburn pain is less likely to be associated with physical activity.

More than 60 million American adults experience Gerd and heartburn at least once a month, and about 25 million adults suffer daily from heartburn.

Doctors recommend lifestyle and dietary changes for most people with GERD. Treatment aims at decreasing the amount of reflux or reducing damage to the lining of the esophagus from refluxed materials. Avoiding foods and beverages that can weaken the LES is recommended. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, fatty foods, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. Foods and beverages that can irritate a damaged esophageal lining, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomato products, and pepper, should also be avoided.

Decreasing the size of portions at mealtime may also help control symptoms. Eating meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime may lessen reflux by allowing the acid in the stomach to decrease and the stomach to empty partially. In addition, being overweight often worsens symptoms. Many overweight people find relief when they lose weight.

Cigarette smoking weakens the LES. Therefore, stopping smoking is important to reduce GERD symptoms.

Elevating the head of the bed on 6-inch blocks or sleeping on a specially designed wedge reduces heartburn by allowing gravity to minimize reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus.

Antacids taken regularly can neutralize acid in the esophagus and stomach and stop heartburn. Many people find that nonprescription antacids provide temporary or partial relief. An antacid combined with a foaming agent such as alginic acid helps some people. These compounds are believed to form a foam barrier on top of the stomach that prevents acid reflux from occuring.

Long-term use of antacids, however, can result in side effects, including diarrhea, altered calcium metabolism (a change in the way the body breaks down and uses calcium), and buildup of magnesium in the body. Too much magnesium can be serious for patients with kidney disease. If antacids are needed for more than 3 weeks, a doctor should be consulted.

For chronic reflux and heartburn, the doctor may prescribe medications to reduce acid in the stomach. These medicines include H2 blockers, which inhibit acid secretion in the stomach. Currently, four H2 blockers are available: cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine. Another type of drug, the proton pump (or acid pump) inhibitor omeprazole inhibits an enzyme (a protein in the acid-producing cells of the stomach) necessary for acid secretion. The acid pump inhibitor lansoprazole is currently under investigation as a new treatment for GERD.

Other approaches to therapy will increase the strength of the LES and quicken emptying of stomach contents with motility drugs that act on the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These drugs include bethanechol and metoclopramide.

People with severe, chronic esophageal reflux or with symptoms not relieved by the treatment described above may need more complete diagnostic evaluation. Doctors use a variety of tests and procedures to examine a patient with chronic heartburn.
An upper GI series may be performed during the early phase of testing. This test is a special x-ray that shows the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine). While an upper GI series provides limited information about possible reflux, it is used to rule out other diagnoses, such as peptic ulcers.

A small number of people with GERD may need surgery because of severe reflux and poor response to medical treatment. Fundoplication is a surgical procedure that increases pressure in the lower esophagus. However, surgery should not be considered until all other measures have been tried.

Sometimes GERD results in serious complications. Esophagitis can occur as a result of too much stomach acid in the esophagus. Esophagitis may cause esophageal bleeding or ulcers. In addition, a narrowing or stricture of the esophagus may occur from chronic scarring. Some people develop a condition known as Barrett's esophagus, which is severe damage to the skin-like lining of the esophagus. Doctors believe this condition may be a precursor to esophageal cancer.

Background information provided by: The National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892


























































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